History of 31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry
The army unit was formed by Lieutenant Colonel S Jennerett as a part of the Madras Native Infantry at Trichonopoly on 1 January 1800. The unit was initially designated as the 1st Battalion 16th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry and was also known as Jennerett's Battalion or Jennerett ki Paltan. The unit primarily consisted of Muslims, Telugus and Tamils of Southern India. It was later renamed as Trichonopoly Light Infantry in the year 1811, which was an award for a 25 mile forced march in defence of a receding force in a small battle in Mysore.
The Trichonopoly Light Infantry also fought in the Third Anglo Maratha War from the year 1817 to 1819. The regiment provided significant and distinguished military service in the Battle of Mahidpur. It was again re-designated in 1824 as the 31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry. The unit did not revolt against the British East India Company during the Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and served in the campaign at Central India. The regiment of 31st Madras Light Infantry was restructured and regrouped with Pathans, Punjabi Muslims, Dogras, Rajputs, Sikhs, Garhwalis and Brahmins in the year 1892. Later it was permanently stationed in Burma. The name of the battalion was changed again to 31st Regiment (6th Burma Battalion) of Madras (Light) Infantry. Eventually in the year 1901, the military regiment was titled as the 31st Burma Light Infantry.
Military Operations of 31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry
The Burma Battalions were raised as special military units that were developed to enforce authority and police the newly acquired regions during the Third Anglo Burmese War. The regiment was also utilised to subdue the mutinous hill tribes dwelling in the frontier regions of Burma. The troops later fought against the unruly hill tribes in the Chin Hills from 1892 to 1896. The 31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry was later sent to China and participated in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Consequent to the reforms administered by Lord Kitchener in the regiments of the British Indian Army in 1903, all the erstwhile units of Madras Army added 60 to their numbers. The designation of the unit was modified to 91st Punjabis (Light Infantry). Major General Henry D'Urban Keary was assigned Colonel of the military regiment in 1912. He previously acted as the commanding officer of the unit from the year 1892 to 1909.
During the beginning of World War I, the 91st Punjabis (Light Infantry) regiment was posted in Burma. The unit served in Mesopotamia in the year 1916 and took part in the military operations on the Euphrates and Tigris Fronts and also participated in the First Battle of Ramadi. Later in the year 1918, 31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry was sent to Palestine and fought in the Battle of Megiddo. A 2nd battalion of the regiment was formed in 1918 and it provided military service in Egypt after the Great War. The 2nd battalion of31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry was dissolved in 1921.
Development of 31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry
After the conclusion of the First World War, the British Government of India renumbered and re-organised the British army in India. The separate single battalion infantry regiments were grouped together to form multi battalion regiments. As a result, the 91st Punjabis (Light Infantry) was amalgamated with the 90th Punjabis, the 92nd Punjabis, the 93rd Burma Infantry and the 2 battalions of the 89th Punjabis in order to raise the 8th Punjab Regiment in the year 1922. The 31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry was assigned as the 3rd Battalion of the new 8th Punjab Regiment.
During the commencement of the Second World War, the regiment took part in the Italian Campaign and fought with valiance. The unit was honoured with a number of gallantry awards. After India achieved freedom from the supremacy of the British Empire in India on 15th August 1947, the country was separated with the Partition of India. As a consequence, 2 new independent nations were formed and the several regiments of the former British Indian Army were shared among the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The 8th Punjab Regiment was assigned to the modern Pakistan Army.
Designations of 31st Regiment of Madras Native Infantry
The 1st Battalion 16th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry held a various titles through out its existence during the reconstituting of the British Indian Army, like the other regiments. These are listed below -
* 1st Battalion 16th Regiment Madras Native Infantry (1800)
* 1st Battalion 16th Regiment (Trichonopoly) Madras Native Infantry or Trichonopoly Light Infantry (1812)
* 31st Regiment Madras Native Infantry or Trichonopoly Light Infantry (1824)
* 31st Regiment (Trichonopoly) Madras (Light) Infantry (1885)
* 31st Regiment (6th Burma Battalion) Madras (Light) Infantry (1892)
* 31st Burma Light Infantry (1901)
* 91st Punjabis (1903)
* 91st Punjabis (Light Infantry) (1904)
* 1st Battalion 91st Punjabis (Light Infantry) or 1/91st Punjabis (Light Infantry) (1918)
* 91st Punjabis (Light Infantry) (1921)
* 3rd Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment or 3/8th Punjab (1922)